Emma Watson, typically tight-lipped, recently revealed a lot in an Instagram post marking her 33rd birthday – and the positivity and optimism about getting older in her caption is inspiring fans. She shared a list of things that she’s accomplished – or failed at – over the last few years. 


“I stepped away from my life - I learned to surf (badly),🏄‍♀️ I rode some horses (🏇that went better), I did a lot of therapy (YESS 💪😍 therapy!). I adopted Sofia in Mexico, who seems to be an angel not a dog 👼. We filmed a Harry Potter reunion⚡️. I said goodbye to my Grandma and Grandpa. I retraced my steps.”


Emma goes on to talk about other achievements, which include starting a women’s environmental investment, playing pickleball and golf and cutting her thumbnail off on both hands trying to learn how to cook, adding that she spent time feeling “really sad and really pissed off” about some things, before wrapping it up by saying she feels like a butterfly now, and thanking her loved ones for helping her get to where she is.

As someone who has been known to write a long, reflective birthday caption myself year after year, Emma’s was way better than any of my previous captions could ever be for a few reasons. First, this is rare for her. She’s not the “open book” many celebrities tout themselves to be. Really, we hardly ever see this kind of public output, she has always been incredibly private and lowkey. But second, she’s inspiring people about aging. And she’s doing it with a cohort that is often believed to be too young to have any anxiety over getting older.


Despite turning 33, the message she’s sending to people is one that affirms it’s okay to not know how to cook yet, to learn astrology later than most, to feel things and to discover new hobbies and passions. The idea that we all have to have certain things figured out by a certain age is one she is giving a big middle finger to. It almost means more coming from her, rather than anyone else, because she seems like someone who really has it all together.

There’s one more thing that her post does, though, and perhaps it’s more important than the visibility it provides to people in their 30s with anxiety about aging: she’s providing another narrative for child stars as they get older, and it’s a narrative that paints a totally different picture from some of the chaos and despair that we’ve seen. 


There’s been a trend of child stars coming forward with their stories of abuse, whether physical, sexual, or from a labour perspective. Substance abuse has also been terribly common in child stars. I’ve written before about people like Jennette McCurdy and Tyler James Williams, who both got their starts at a young age, similar to how Emma did, and were forced to grow up faster than most kids as a result of being working professionals in childhood. I also wrote about the child stars of reality TV, which is even more nuanced because the lines between your private and public life are so blurred in that environment. 

But Emma experienced fame differently. It’s not that she didn’t have struggles, and it’s not that this is a comparison of who’s better and who isn’t. But when you consider just how successful Harry Potter was, the level of fame her casting catapulted her to was unparalleled. Despite countless other gigs and a successful modelling career, most of her fortune was amassed from her role as Hermione Granger. And Emma’s caption gives hope that child stars can come out on the other side of their acting careers with a great sense of self, and encourages us all to take our time and figure things – and ourselves – out.